How to build rapport with employees in a hybrid or fully remote company
One of the biggest challenges hybrid or fully remote companies face is the ability to create a pleasant work culture when face-to-face interaction is an ever-present limitation. According to the 2018 Employee Retention Report, employees who are unhappy with their company's work culture are 24% more likely to look for another job within a year.
In this article, we will show you what it takes to build and maintain a healthy environment for your hybrid or fully remote workforce.
Fully remote vs work from home vs hybrid work
Let's start by clarifying these often confused terms.
Working fully remote and working from home are two different things:
Working from home implies that the company operates under a hybrid or flexible work policy. Which allows employees to decide whether they’ll work from home occasionally or if they will prefer to commute to the office.
Working fully remotely, on the other hand, means that the company does not have a physical address.
Thus, employees have complete freedom to choose where they’ll be working from–unless the company requires them to work from a special location.
For example, in a particular region or country, in a room where there isn’t any noise interference, or with specialized equipment.
Many telemarketers or business analysts, for instance, often use special equipment provided by the company they work for. This either for security reasons or because certain software or computer equipment is required to carry out their work.
The rising spark in remote work
As a result of the current health crisis, remote work has become the norm for many businesses around the world.
In a matter of days, those enterprises that had followed a strict on-site work policy were forced to either suspend operations or abruptly switch to a remote work policy.
And while this sudden shake-up might be yielding great results, many leaders still find it difficult to keep their remote staff motivated and engaged.
What is company culture?
In a nutshell, corporate culture reflects the identity of a company through its:
work model (on-site, remote, hybrid/flexible)
organization and accountability
internal structure (linear, flat, mixed, etc.)
feedback and communication style (passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive)
values and goals
sense of purpose
professional and financial growth
All these are key factors that can make or break a company.
They will determine the success or failure of a company and could directly influence the mental health, productivity, and engagement of an entire workforce.
Although for many companies, employee retention is not an issue of concern, for those in the startup stage should be a matter of great sensitivity and consideration.
Failing to do so from the get-go can foster a hostile and tension-filled environment that, over the years, can cost the efficient life of the company.
What are the different types of work culture?
Building rapport with your team, remote or onsite, goes beyond organizing occasional team building activities.
It all comes down to your company culture.
These are the most common types of work culture:
Leaders ensure that all processes are well mapped out even before hiring managers and junior staff.
There is no room for error or doubt, and the workflow is expected to be followed to the tee, respecting the hierarchical level of each stakeholder.
One of the disadvantages of the Hierarchy culture is that due to the rigidity it implies, it doesn’t leave much room for creativity and can become monotonous and demotivating.
Also known as ‘results-driven culture', stands out for its high focus on achieving goals no matter what is at stake.
These types of companies look for employees who are innately self-motivated by having a clear goal or reward in mind.
Although the Market culture can bring immediate results, it can trigger an unhealthy competitive culture among team members.
Adhocracy culture a.k.a. ‘The Startup Culture’
Here, members of an organization are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and think outside the box to achieve their goals.
This invites employees to experience different ways of approaching and solving problems and makes them more self-reliant and collaborative.
In the Adhocracy culture, innovation is the muse and the common goal of the organization. Mistakes are actually opportunities for growth, and there is an open channel of communication between departments to achieve a common goal.
The adhocracy culture normally follows a flat hierarchical structure in which seniors and juniors are willing and motivated to learn from each other and work as a team.
While this may sound like the ideal culture for many, there are professionals accustomed to working in more organized linear hierarchical settings, who may feel overwhelmed by being exposed to constant change and having to adapt to more flexible working styles.
Staff is often referred to as 'family.'
These companies seek to encourage teamwork and support each other as one would in a family environment.
Communication is one of the main pillars, and employees are motivated to communicate their emotions and ideals so that even team leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and they can serve as moderators or coaches should a crisis arise.
This can be counterproductive because there are no clear boundaries or distinctions between work and what should be a family environment. Therefore, productivity can be compromised.
And there are also situations where employees are asked to give more than they should because they must replicate the kind of emotional investment they make for their own family.
How to build rapport with your hybrid or fully remote team?
Once you are aware of the type of culture your company practices, you need to take this into account before you even start hiring.
There is nothing more demotivating for a candidate than to realize that the interviewer (manager or external recruiter) is not able to define what the work culture of the company they are applying for is all about.
Therefore, here is a cheat sheet that will help you evaluate whether you have taken the time to define your company's culture in detail:
1. Define what type of candidates and personalities are the best fit for your company.
This will serve as a standard to know which profiles will resonate best with your company culture. Additionally, this will decrease turnover in the long run.
If your company culture follows a linear hierarchical model, it is very likely that a candidate used to working in startups or in more flexible environments will not be able to adapt to the more structured and rigid environment of your business.
2. The job title should match the duties.
Employees begin to feel overwhelmed when their duties are not clearly established and agreed upon.
Regardless of the culture your company practices, you need to set clear expectations with your employees so they don't feel like they are being exploited.
If your company is not in a position to offer raises, you must be sure to create a clear path for growth, especially with those team players who demonstrate their commitment and desire to grow within the company.
If someone is having too much on their plate, find a way to spread the work evenly so that your employee feels supported and valued.
3. It's not what you say, it's how you say it.
We are sometimes unaware of the tone we use to approach our peers.
That is why we must have the humility to reflect on how we communicate in writing and verbally.
Here's where peer assessment comes into play.
It is recommended that each leader has individual sessions with their team to monitor both their work projects and their emotional well-being.
Although this is not intended to be a therapy session, it is important that both reach agreements that can foster a healthy and constructive feedback environment.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, so be sure to document what was agreed upon in these individual sessions to prevent unpleasant situations or behaviors from happening again.
4. Acknowledge your team's achievements.
Give honor where honor is due.
It is very easy to overlook the accomplishments of team members in a fast-paced and busy growing company.
Therefore, it is paramount that you take the time to congratulate your team, or highlight an achievement that is worthy of recognition.
This will boost your team's morale and enhance their sense of purpose.
5. Plan monthly or seasonal team building activities.
Take some time to have fun with your team.
Being in quarantine made it very clear to us that it is not necessary to be on site to have a good time.
There are now thousands of online games designed to provide a little time for unwinding after a long day's work.
Use holidays as an opportunity to play some fun games with your team, such as:
The idea is for you to spend time with your team in a relaxed atmosphere without talking about work.
Whether your company follows one of the work cultures mentioned above, or a combination of several, we remind you that many successful companies choose to follow an employee-centric approach.
Why? Because when employees feel valued, more often than not, put the company's interests first and are motivated to achieve common goals, rather than just seeing their job as 'just another paycheck.'
We hope you find these tips useful, and we encourage you to share this article with whoever you think may find it useful. 😉
Duline is an SEO writer and content strategist with several years' experience blogging on topics related to eCommerce, marketing, education, travel, and finance.
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